HD Guru’s 2013 CES Top Pick Awards Part 1
The 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show was the most exciting one in years, thanks to a huge number of new HDTV and UHDTV products and associated picture improvements. This year HD Guru awarded products in 8 categories, including our first “Best OLED TV” and “Best UHDTV” as well as our Best HDTV, Best Blu-ray Player, Best Media Player, Best 3D TV and Best In Show.
Our award criteria includes: picture performance for displays and sound quality for Soundbars, uniqueness, innovation as well as smart design. All awards are for products with an announced release date this year. No concept or prototype products are eligible. In Part 1 we cover the Media Player, Blu-ray Player and Soundbar. The winners appear after the break.
Best Media Player
This one was an easy choice for us. The Sony 4K Media Player received our “Top Pick” as the industry’s first player to be offered for sale that will download and play movies in the UHD (ultra high definition) 3840 x 2160 resolution format.
Sony’s 4K player will permit downloads of movie titles from Sony Pictures in addition to UHD content from 3Net a joint venture of Sony, Imax and Discovery.
The player receives the download via the Internet, stores the movie on its internal hard disc drive, (size TBA). Included with the player will be a Sony Xperia tablet that also serves as a remote control. The demonstration showed complete UHD movies as well as trailers from upcoming Sony movies.
At launch there will be 10 titles available in the UHD format. The current list includes: The Amazing Spiderman; The Other Guys; Total Recall (2012); After Earth (June 7, 2013 theater release) and Oblivion (April 26, 2013 theater release)
A Sony spokesman told HD Guru its 4K Media Player will play on any UHDTV not just Sony’s. Because of the large size of the files and a great variation across the US in download speeds, it could take days for some users to receive the entire film. It is expected the player will begin downloading a new title days before the release date and then unlock it for playback on the day Sony chooses for initial viewing.
The player will go on sale with the included tablet this summer at a price to be announced.
Best Blu-ray Player
Many new Blu-ray disc players appeared at the CES. The Toshiba BDX 6400 stood out due to its feature set, new Internet capabilities, Miracast and UHD upconversion.
Toshiba’s new Cloud TV expands its Blu-ray’s capability as a media player. Features include a multi-page user interface, open web browser and Wi-Fi.
Miracast permits pushing content, including movies and photos from your portable device (cell phones, tablets, laptops etc.) to your TV via the BDX 6400.
As a media player this Toshiba offers services from YouTube, Netflix, Vudu Movies and Vudu Apps, CinemaNow, Hulu Plus™ and Pandora. In addition, the 6400’s Cloud TV services include a family event calendar, streaming news, personal messaging, photo album, interactivegaming apps and more.
As a Blu-ray player, the 6400 features fast loading via its disc slot, smooth compact style and Toshiba’s UHD upconversion for high quality viewing on a UHD TV.
The BDX 6400 is scheduled for March 2013 release.
The Samsung HW-F750 Soundbar features 2.1 channels (left, right and wireless subwoofer) . Unique to this award winning Soundbar is the use of a vacuum tube preamp, with the tubes visible on the front panel.
Samsung claims warmer sound thanks to the tubes (we also liked the exposed tubes retro-orange glow). Our hands-on demo confirmed a smooth sound that hit very satisfactory sound levels, albeit against the din of the CES show floor.
Features include a Wi-Fi subwoofer, auto power on, HDMI inputs and a gyroscopic sensor which permits wall or table orientation with auto sound dispersion adjustment.
The HW-F750 will be released in the first half of 2013.
Stay tuned for the rest of best of CES 2013.
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